File Photo :Women Reggae Warriors Celebrate Winning the Naples 9s - May 2023
The Jamaican squad has been named for the inaugural Americas North Women’s Championship, to be held at the University of West Indies Mona Bowl in Kingston, which will carry world ranking points.
History will be created when the Women Reggae Warriors will face off against the USA Hawks this Saturday, 23 September in game one of the Championship. The game will mark the nation's first ever full International Match. In the other Championship games; USA faces Canada on Monday 25 September; and the final match pits Jamaica against Canada on Wednesday 27 September, all games kicking off at 3.30pm local time.
Jamaica women’s head coach Andrew Dixon said: “I am highly anticipating our debut in women international fixtures in these Championships. We go in as underdogs where experience is concerned and the match ups against USA and Canada will be an uphill task, however we are gearing up to leave our mark.
“The girls have been preparing at a steady pace and are excited to play, they are aware they are history makers. It’s a major honour to host these championships. This platform will contribute to the growth of women’s rugby league in the Americas and will increase local interest. Strategically, internationals are crucial for us.”
All but one of the Jamaican players were first introduced to rugby league in Jamaica. Two players ply their trade overseas, Darcey Price plays for Salford in the UK and Kamoya Forrest who plays for Tampa Mischief in the USA. Missing from Jamaica's squad are Naomi Dodd and Crystal Groves, two key players who played vital roles when Jamaica won the Naples 9s in May this year. Dodd, a flying winger, was the top try scorer in that tournament. Jamaica will reply on the experience of Price, Sherine Johnson and Debisha Scarlett in the middle, whilst Shanique Smith, Lovel Atkinson and Daynna Angus should feature strongly in the in the back line.
Remarkable, with an eye on the future, the team also features teenagers Alaine Taylor and Nassandra Miller who are students at BB Coke High School in St. Elizabeth. BB Coke has become a hot bed of rugby league talent exposing nearly 100 students to rugby league each year.
The squad faces an up hill battle against their more experienced opponents, the USA is ranked World #17 whilst Canada, boasting 6 players from professional leagues in England and Australia are ranked World #7.
Commenting on the rapid growth of the women's game in Jamaica, Director of Rugby Romeo Monteith said: "The seeds were planted in 2019 by Andre Hill (Ascot High) and Antonio Baker (The Cedar Grove Academy), both of whom nurtured girls programs tag programs in their schools. To see it progress so rapidly in a few years where we not only have women playing full contact Community club and high school rugby league, but fielding a national team, it is indeed a proud and historic moment . We want to see more women in non traditional sports and we are glad to be playing our part."
Team Jamaica is proudly supported by Jersey and Walking Shirt sponsors Hertz Jamaica and Express Fitness Jamaica. Accommodation partner is Hotel Four Season .The after match social gathering for each game will be at Kingston Jerk, at 2 Chelsea Ave in Kingston. The team is also receiving much needed support from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
JAMAICA WOMEN’S SQUAD
Lovel Atkinson, Janelle Cole, Zahra Ennis, Jamila Fairclough, Sherine Johnson, Tihanna Lewinson, Alicia Richards, Glacia Simpson, Shakayla Morris, Shanique Smith, Mischka Stewart, Shanice Stewart, (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Shoya Gordon, Mackayla McCalla, Anneisha Nash, Tajera Nicholson, Venisha Mcleish, (Jamaica Defence Force), Darcey Price, (Salford Red Devils), Alaine Taylor, Nassandra Miller, (St Bess Sledge Hammers), Kamoya Forrest , (Tampa Mischief), Crystal Groves, (Toronto Scottish), Ameir Kinlock, Daynna Angus, Debisha Scarlett, Natassia Scarlett, Nazomi Christie, (Washington Blvd Bulls)
Head Coach: Andrew Dixon, Assistant Coaches: Jade Harrison and Kamar Findlay
Physios: Tajay Bailey and Justion Mesquita
Team Manager: Curtis Wilmot
Team Doctor: Dr. Gillian Larene